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A Hairy Girl’s Guide To All Things Body Hair Removal

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a hairy person. And also for as long as I can remember, I’ve been fighting against my body’s natural hair. I remember being terrified to have my mom shave my legs for the first time because I thought it would hurt (like, hello they’re like…blades?). But it wasn’t just my legs, which sprouted dark, stubborn pinpricks of hair that matched my lush lashes and brows. My arms were covered in a bed of wispy brunette hair. My naval has a whole layer of peach fuzz, and even my fingers and toes had teeny tufts of hair. 
Because I thought girls were supposed to be totally hairless and smooth below the neck, I spent countless hours and dollars in an effort to rid my skin of hair. And let me be clear: It made me miserable! I felt like an ugly, hideous beast compared to the airbrushed, sunbathing models in the Venus commercials. I know we’ve come a long way in normalizing body hair. I’ve seen bright blue tufts of underarm hair on the streets of Brooklyn, and it’s awesome! Seeing other people confidently embrace their own body hair has allowed me to have a much more neutral stance towards my own; and while most days I choose to remove it for my own personal preference, rocking a five-o-clock shadow on my underarms is no longer something that bothers me one bit. Now, that being said, I've been around the block with many types of hair removal — and as someone who still maintains smooth skin most days, I'm here to share what's worked (and what's not) in my own experience of having lots of body hair.
So honestly, whether you decide to keep it or not is totally up to you, but if you’re looking for a B.S.-free list of products and methods I personally use to rid my body of unwanted hair. 


Photo: Kristine Romano
Best For: Legs
Results Last: A few days
Frequency: Twice a week

Let's start with shaving. Pros: It's easy and virtually painless (unless you're like me and accidentally slice a large piece of skin because you're rushing), and among the more affordable methods of getting rid of body hair. Cons: For me, I start noticing regrowth within two days. I don't love shaving for that reason, but also, it can irritate skin and cause razor bumps — especially if you want to shave often enough to maintain hairlessness. (I like smooth skin, but also kinda DGAF when it comes to my own body hair; I shave about twice a week and happily deal with stubble in between. These days, I have no problem embracing my body hair, which is a much healthier place than in my teen years.)
I don't love disposable razors and plastic handles, so I switched over to Oui The People's chrome razor, which provides the smoothest shave I've ever gotten. (Note: These blades are very sharp, so be careful when switching out blades and wielding the handle in the shower — see previous note.) The primary factor that sets Oui The People apart is the surgical-grade stainless steel handle and single-blade head. Not only is this more durable than disposable plastic, but the entire thing can be recycled if the time comes for you to part ways. The old-school safety razor design is also clutch for removing unwanted hair without irritation since it's one blade passing over your skin versus three or five.
I also really love Hanni's kit, which includes a glide-on moisturizing gel that allows you to dry shave (!) without taking off the first layer of skin (!). The weighted design helps you get a closer shave — therefore, a smoother result — and is similar to Oui in its safety razor-inspired design. As many reviewers mention, the Hanni razor isn't one that you can haphazardly run over your legs without drawing blood since the blade is very — I repeat, very — sharp. And since safety razors generally aren't TSA-friendly, I also keep a Billie razor in my toiletry bag. It's affordable and the heads have five blades for a pretty smooth result.


Photo: Hayleigh Longman
Best For: Bikini, arms, stomach, back
Results Last: A few weeks
Frequency: Monthly

Let's take a deep breath. Waxing, okay! This might be an unpopular opinion, but I love waxing. I used to get regular Brazilians before I got laser, both of which I found to be very manageable in terms of pain. (That said, I've been told I'm an absolute beast in terms of pain tolerance so take that with a grain of salt.) Waxing obviously isn't comfortable by any means, but the results are worth it. With the right prep and aftercare, I find that waxing is actually gentler on the skin than frequent shaving. Not to mention, hair gradually grows back thinner since you're removing the strand and bulb from the follicle, whereas shaving cuts the hair at the base of the strand, leaving the bulb intact.
While it took a lot of trial and error (and hot wax in various nooks and crannies), I eventually got really good at at-home waxing. If you're a beginner, I would recommend strips; they're easier to apply, but most importantly, they're mess-free. My favorite ones are by Flamingo, but I've also used the old-school Nad's ones for years. I like to warm the wax by gently rubbing the strip between your hands since this creates better adhesion to the hair. If you're ready to level up, the gentlest wax I've used at home is Bliss' Poetic Waxing kit. I've gone through countless jars of this stuff, and it most closely mimics the spa experience compared to anything else I've tried. It's a hard wax, which means that no strips are used in the process; you simply heat up the mug in the microwave, stir, and apply the warm wax directly to your skin. Wait a few seconds for the wax to harden on your skin, and you carefully peel back a corner and remove the entire chunk in one sweeping motion.


Photo: Caroline Tompkins
Best For: Underarms, arms, legs
Results Last: Up to permanently
Frequency: Varies
Last, let's talk about hair removal devices. There are a couple different types, but among the most popular use IPL (aka Intense Pulsed Light) to slowly eliminate regrowth. This is not the same technology as laser hair removal, so right off the bat, don't expect similar results. Many professionals I've spoken to don't love these since they are a) expensive, and b) don't always work — and those concerns are very valid. However, I have seen success with these devices, with one very important caveat: If you want to see any kind of significant result, you need to use these like clockwork, and follow instructions to a T. (That usually means no waxing, threading, tweezing, or any other hair removal method that removes the bulb, and therefore interrupts the follicle's hair growth cycle.) The RoseSkinCo. Lumi is very similar to a discontinued device that I used on my formerly gorilla-like arm hairs, and I've been testing out Foreo's new Peach 2, which has been great for larger areas like legs. (My main gripe for legs is that it's a lot of skin to shave or wax, so the fact that the Peach 2 has a decent amount of surface area is a game-changer.)
Another old-school device that I've used for years is my trusty epilator. If you don't know what that is, it's because epilators' PR girlie has been sleeping on the job for a long time. The device acts like a whirling, moving set of tweezers that pluck out hairs as you pass the device over your skin. Now I will say – this is not for the faint of heart. Even I will say that the first time you use one (which is to say, before your hair has grown back finer), it will bring tears to your eyes. I've heard people compare it to having a million rubber bands repeatedly snapping your skin, and it's not an incorrect assessment. However, I've been exclusively epilating my underarms for at least five years now, and not only do I barely have any regrowth, but my results last at least a full week. (Any regrowth is also so fine that I don't even notice it, and I easily go weeks without epilating again.) These devices are also significantly cheaper than IPL ones, retailing in the $100-$200 range. (I've used the Braun Silk-Épil for years and I couldn't recommend it more.)

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